Kitchen Garden Guides

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


....or a cave woman.

I love camping, don't get me wrong, and I have done some pretty serious bush walks, including 2 weeks cross-country skiing, carrying everything and camping in the snow. But I always knew there was a home to come back to, where I could cook while standing up, wash in a hot shower, keep food cold in a fridge and turn on a switch to get light.

image Moving my goods and chattels to Tasmania seems to be a long process and why my things take longer than I do to get here is a mystery to me, but after 2 weeks I still only have what I brought in the car plus what I have found here.... which can be a good thing but, dear reader, there is definitely a limit! I don't want to have to do without tongs or a whisk or a cake tin or a strainer of any kind, for example. It is a bugger of a thing to turn a toasted sandwich or grate a lovely piece of fresh ginger or strain pasta without any tools. Do you know how slippery spaghetti is and how quickly it slides down the plug hole when you only have a spoon to hold it back?

My biggest mistake was bringing only one saucepan. It makes you think hard about the order of cooking when you decide to have even something as simple as spaghetti bolognese for dinner! Worse, is the dilemma of making coffee in a saucepan but also heating the milk and getting the whole thing the right temperature and strength at the end! Collecting all those tomatoes with Mary was great and we stewed half of them..... in 2 batches because of the one pan problem, and then had a mish mash of plastic containers to freeze them in, some with and some without lids and no labels. There is more produce in the garden that needs dealing with, like the 175 million apples..... but it is a daunting task with one saucepan and very few containers.

image Today is a bit cold and wet so I thought I would light the fire in the kitchen, for fun. It was lovely until suddenly I needed to move a burning log to stop it falling out onto the kitchen floor..... with no fire tools. When you are a cave man, it doesn't matter if the fire creeps a little this way or that and tending a camp fire with a good stick or two is fun but it is quite important that in my house, the fire stays in the fire place! Imagine trying to heat a whole house this way. I am glad someone invented slow combustion heaters.


I thought I would take advantage of the heat and cook on the fire.....hmmmm.... anyway, so in the end I just nestled a potato into a nice spot (I don't have any foil either), when, after I sat back and relaxed, a small log rolled onto the potato, making it difficult to extract without risking more trouble..... already the kitchen was filling with smoke. Consequently the potato was nicely black and crisp on one side.... I must change the batteries in the smoke alarms as they didn't notice a thing! OK, you say, so what if the potato is black? But if we were cave dwellers, this would be the best we could hope for.....I dare not imagine the worst... and my recipe books would get all dusty!

It would be nice to have a ladder or at least a chair or stool with no moving parts! Mary's husband Trevor bought me some silicone...... wonderful stuff ..... and I was getting on great guns with it until I decided to fix a join in the gutter..... without a ladder and only a very wobbly stool. I could not get high enough to see into the gutter and by the end, there was more silicone on me than along the joint I was trying to plug up. OK, OK caves have some advantages as I have never seen a cave with gutters.

image A highlight of the silicone experience, however, was the decision to stick a very large, flat shell over a prospective mouse entry point in the kitchen wall, using all the silicone on my fingers..... I think I will use shells more often as it looks very cute there. Another thing I use these big, flat fan shells for is as spoon rests; I have 2 each side of the stove..... very handy.... and much nicer to use than anything I have ever bought to do the job. Cave people who lived by the sea could have made a fortune with this idea! I found a lovely piece of slate in the garden too, ideal to sit the olive oil bottle on to stop the bench getting oily..... I guess cave women didn't have a lot of problems with bottles of oil ...... as their shelves would all have been made of stone already.

There was a horrible, crooked, cane light shade in one of the bedrooms and eventually I took it off. Holding it in my hands, I said "Turned upside down this would be a fine bowl for something." Next thing Mary had filled it with apples and it looks very chic! Deb would have been very handy in a cave, with her weaving of plant fibres, she could have had bowls of this and that all over the place!

I don't suppose cave men had the inclination to go out of the cave and trim the bushes, pick some flowers or generally tidy up the front yard, but I do, and it is frustrating that all I have is an old, very flimsy pair of plastic scissors I found in the wheel house. I really did think my stuff would be here by now.....

Although lots of us go on about the over use of energy, living green lives etc etc, I am definite when I say thank goodness for the opportunity to live in the 21st century; we have a lot to thank our ancestors for, starting with the bloke who invented the wheel, way back before the good old days, right up to now with digital technology, solar panels and coffee machines.

......The rain has cleared so it is time for yet another trip down to the big shed..... to see if I can find some fire tools or at least some cast iron bits that would do for now. I just discovered a rod with a large hook hanging in the fireplace..... now if I could find a cast iron pot to hang over the fire I would be very, very happy.... making potions and casting spells! Maybe then I would find that cauldron of words I once had at my finger tips too.


JOC said...

Hi Kate,
Jan here from Bakers8. I tried to email you but it didn't work. I'd like to help if I may so please let me know what you really need to make life more comfortable, and less hazardous, and if I can assist I'm more than happy to.
I think that you have my email but if not it's I'll wait to hear from you.


Heiko said...

Sounds like an adventure! The first 3 months after moving into our historic palazzo on the top of a wind swept hill, we didn't have electricity, for heat only a fire place during the coldest winter in 30 years, no cooker, fridge (no need for that), huge holes in the window... you get the picture. I cooked an entire Christmas dinner by candle light in a wok on the open fire.

Maggie said...

Hi Kate,
Lovely to see your new kitchen and home.
I reckon that is Deb's lovely nut bowl on the table!
What are you going to do with all the apples?

Kate said...

Oh goodness, Heiko! And you even lived to tell the story! Amazing.

Jan, thanks so much and now I am so looking forward to meeting you tomorrow!!

Maggie, I think lots may end up as chook food. Trying to give away apples at this time of the year, here, is like trying to give away zucchinis in Adelaide!